The presence of a plasmid in the Chlamydiaceae is both species and strain specific. Knowledge of the prevalence of the plasmid in different Chlamydia species is important for future studies aiming to investigate the role of the plasmid in chlamydial biology and disease. Although strains of Chlamydophila felis with or without the plasmid have been identified, only a small number of laboratory-adapted strains have been analysed and the prevalence of the plasmid in field isolates has not been determined. This study aimed to determine the prevalence of the plasmid in C. felis-positive conjunctival and oropharyngeal clinical samples submitted for routine diagnosis of C. felis by real-time (Q)PCR. DNA extracts from four laboratory-adapted strains were also analysed. QPCR assays targeting regions of C. felis plasmid genes pCF01, pCF02 and pCF03 were developed for the detection of plasmid DNA. QPCR analysis of DNA extracts from C. felis-positive clinical samples found evidence of plasmid DNA in 591 of 595 samples representing 561 of 564 (99.5%) clinical cases. Plasmid DNA was also detected by QPCR in laboratory-adapted strains 1497V, K2487 and K2490, but not strain 905. We conclude that the plasmid is highly conserved in C. felis, and plasmid-deficient strains represent a rare but important population for future studies of chlamydial plasmid function.
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